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Re: Making legal issues as short as possible



Harald Geyer wrote:
On Thu, Feb 10, 2005 at 09:20:42PM +0100, Harald Geyer wrote:
    
"Copyright 2005 by XYZ.  The copyright holder hereby grants permission to
everyone, forever, to do anything with this work which would otherwise be
restricted by his exclusive legal rights."
        
 
  
This is sufficiently short, shorter than most things which are 
copyrightable at all. Thanks for the suggestion!
      
And, as I pointed out, a poor suggestion.  Please do not use it; you'll
be doing the free software world a disfavor 
    

I don't see anything in our message that is not specific to my
original wording. Probably you can give me a pointer, why this
"enhanced version" is still poor.

Especially I don't see why a liberal and short license is a disfavor
to free software.

  
(not to mention failing to
disclaim warranty, putting yourself in danger).
    

That's a different issue, I left out for simplicity. I don't know much
about that field either and luckily I live in a country, where this issue
is less important than otherwhere.

However I like to discuss that separately from licensing because of the
following reason: There are three parties involved. The author, the
copyright holder and the distributor. Who is liable depends on who
is making claims about the product.

Obviously the only one involved in the license is the copyright holder.
I guess the main reason for putting licenses and disclaimers together
is, that in most cases author and copyright holder are the same.
I'd like to see it as common practice that some softwares documentation
isn't making any claims about the software but only describes how it
is supposed to work. Although this is obvious to us, it might not
be obvious to others - it is good to include some disclaimer in this
cases.

But there are also other cases without documentation or anything else
that can be misread as claim. Think about dictionaries, small
configuration files, a set of tiles or something similiar. Probably
these things aren't copyrightable at all but we are still urged to
claim copyright to deal with strange jurisdictions and the like.
In this case it sucks to have to attach a license, ten times the size
of the work itselve.

Harald
  
Harald,
What apears simple right now tends to cause downstream difficulty. Someone taking your code will need to confirm that in their jursidiction this statement enables them to release a modification under a liscence that disclaims warranty, a future maintainer will ask lists like this if everything is ok, in some jurisdictions there will be extra work as people confirm that details in local law they don't understand overcomes your intent, there is a minor risk of users looking for warranty, and you will get emails asking you to confirm that case 'X' is ok.

All adds up to extra work that can be avoided now by following an established simple path - use a standard wide-open Open Source liscence like the MIT (See http://opensource.planetjava.org/licenses/mit-license.html). I replicated the MIT liscence below.

Copyright (c) <year> <copyright holders>

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.





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